Can People Be Hypnotized And Forced To Do Evil?
Hypnosis has fascinated mankind for thousands of years, and has found numerous uses worldwide. It is a mental state in which a person is awake with a heightened sense of awareness, and is open to suggestion. Many stories and novels have created the notion that a person can be hypnotized against his or her will to do things that are criminal in nature. Here are the objective facts.
History: Hypnosis or hypnotism has a long history that spans thousands of years. It all started when many people into meditation discovered that they can induce a special state via certain techniques of concentration and meditation. It also had its origin when many witch doctors and others discovered that the administration of certain herbs, or passing people through certain religious practices can induce a special state in them. Starting from there this information was passed on from generation to generation, mostly among shamans and practitioners of hatha yoga.
Since the state of hypnotism can be used to influence people, this information was used by secret schools of shamans and yogis to develop techniques to hypnotize people and animals/birds. Since hypnotizing people/animals could mean great influence, power, and money, the systematic development done by these people was kept a secret. However, information did come out from time to time.
In the last two centuries many western researchers took deep interest in Hypnosis and investigated them in depth. Dr. Franz Mesmer a physician from Austria is the most prominent among them. He started his investigations around 1770 and developed the techniques of inducing hypnotism to a high level. His system was eventually known as Mesmerism.
Another important modern figure is the Scottish surgeon James Braid who in 1842 coined the more acceptable term hypnotism. Braid's work brought hypnosis to the mainstream of empirical research, and from there onwards numerous researches actively got involved in studying hypnosis, methods to induce it, and approaches to use it to influence people and shape their behavior.
Uses of Hypnosis: Hypnosis has successfully been used to produce relaxation, soothing anxious surgical patients, pain management, weight loss, relief in skin diseases, habit control, improvement of mental and physical performance. Many psychologists have used it successfully for what is known as hypnotherapy. It has also been used to relieve painful memories, to bring back forgotten or suppressed memories, etc.
Many magicians use what is known as "stage hypnosis" for their performance. The general impression being that they are hypnotizing the masses so that they believe the illusions created by the magician. However, this is a fallacy. All stage hypnosis is trickery for entertainment. Some preachers are known to use it for fooling people and for getting financial gain. However, none of the above things has anything to do with real hypnosis. Nor can hypnosis be used on a mass audience to create illusions.
Can People Be Hypnotized And Forced To Do Evil: Though people under the spell of hypnosis are in a heightened state of mind, they are not unconscious. Thus they cannot be forced to do evil or harmful activities against their will. Also, the effects of hypnosis do not last for days or weeks. Thus people cannot be forced to steal or commit murder under hypnosis. That people can be hypnotized to do evil and harmful activities is a myth that has spread among people through fiction, and it is indeed a fictitious idea. People can be made to do only those things that they consciously wish to do. Only thing, under hypnosis they tend to lose their inhibitions and fears for some time, which helps them in the long run for good activities.
Further, a person cannot be hypnotized against his/her will. As to whether a person should subject himself to hypnosis by another person, there are varied opinions. I would personally caution you against it.
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